Reiki levels, attunements and Taoism

Reiki Levels

Reiki, a Japanese word that means ‘universal life force energy.’ It is a system of hands-on healing that is believed to have been developed in Japan in the late 1800’s. The Japanese symbol for rei translates as ‘universal life force.’ Combined with ki, one’s personal energy, Reiki means universal life force energy channeled through one’s personal ki; this is what is believed to be happening in Reiki practice and various Reiki levels.

Reiki levels, attunements and Taoism

Reiki History

There is no conclusive evidence as to how Reiki was developed, but it is generally accepted that Dr. Usui, a student of religion in Japan, received the Reiki symbols after an extensive period of study, fasting and meditation. After receiving the symbols, he found that his personal energy level had increased dramatically, and he was able to cure people’s ailments by placing his hands upon the painful area. Dr Usui was searching to understand how Jesus healed people with laying-on of hands. Laying-on of hands

Hands-On Healing

Currently, Reiki levels are taught and passed through a series of ‘attunements’ from a Reiki Master to a student. It is believed that everyone can learn and practice Reiki because it is universally accessible. Once a student is ‘attuned’ by a Master, he/she can then practice Reiki. Reiki levels are segregated in three parts: Reiki 1, Reiki 2, and Reiki 3, or Master Level. Some practitioners believe in separating Level 3 from Mastery Level. There can be conflicting evidence between teachers as to how Reiki courses are taught and transferred, so students are advised to find a teacher whom they trust, and follow a method within which they have confidence.

Self Healing

In Reiki 1 the student receives his/her first attunements, opening their energy field to Reiki energy;. Reiki is always passed from person-to-person through the hands. The basis of Reiki 1 is personal healing, or self-healing. It is the first experience giving and receiving Reiki, and in the Reiki courses the students will practice on one another. Reiki 1 teaches hand positions, the area on the body where one places their hands when giving a Reiki treatment. Most Reiki courses will include meditation, reflection and sharing amongst teacher and students.

Long Distance Healing

In Reiki 2, the student receives further initiations and also is taught the symbols that facilitate Reiki healing in a more specific manner. These symbols represent emotional healing, physical healing, and long-distance healing. After Level 2, a student can choose to send Reiki training online at a distance to someone they who may need healing. Students are encouraged to ‘ask permission’ before sending any kind of Reiki healing, as Reiki is not something that one imposes on others, but is a process of giving and receiving, or more specifically, channelling. Some people choose to use the word channel, as this takes away from any sense of superiority between the practitioner and the ‘patient’; it is Reiki that does the work and the practitioner acts as a facilitator, or channel.

reiki levels

Reiki Attunements

In Reiki 3, or Master Level, the student receives his/her final attunements, and is taught how to pass attunements to others. Once a student becomes a Reiki Master he or she is then qualified to teach Reiki to others. Sometimes Level 3 and Mastery Level are separated; in order to complete the Master level, the students must know the hand positions, the Reiki symbols, and how to pass attunements. Completing Level 3/Mastery involves deeper study and practice, as well as understanding in theory how Reiki levels work.

Generally speaking, there is a time delay between completing each of the levels, to allow for practice, integration of the knowledge, and understanding how to use the energy. This can vary greatly depending upon the teacher, and while some may teach all the Levels in one weekend, others will wait months between the Reiki levels of 1 and 2, and years between Level 1 and Mastery Level.


The Three Treasures are a fundamental concept of Taoism and are essentially the three types of energy that practitioners of Taoist yoga cultivate. Chi, Jing and Shen are an important part of qigong and Inner Alchemy.

According to Stuart Alve Olson, the Three Treasures, “represent the primal and accumulated energies of the body (ching), breath (qi), and mind (shen).”

What is Chi or Qi?

According to Eric Yudelove in Taoist Yoga and Sexual Energy, chi or qi is “both breath and our life force energy.” It is Chi that allows movement and flow of energy through the body and ensures functioning of the organ systems.

Chi derives from various liquids, hormones, and fluids that are produced in the body. Do read What is Chi or Qi for more on this Taoist concept.

reiki 1

What is Jing?

Jing or ching is the most densely concentrated energy of all the three. Jing, according to Eric Yudelove, translates into “Essence.” The bodily fluids and liquids that provide the chi or life force energy make up the Jing.

Stuart Alve Olson describes Jing as sexual energy and secretions, blood, food and saliva. People lose Jing through stress, exertion, worry and can restore or replenish it by following a healthy diet and practicing qigong.

What is Shen?

Shen is translated into “Spirit” and according to Stuart Alve Olson, “manifests itself through intent.” Just as Qi and Jing can be expressed externally, Shen too can be displayed in many ways. Shen is the inner brilliance, kindness and goodness that can be seen and reflected. Acccording to Olson, this external expression is called, “spirit illumination” or “shen ming”.

Jing, Chi and Shen are an important part of Taoist practice and as Olson puts it, “the very heart of the practice is to create a spiritual embryo in which the ching and qi can be thought of as the egg and the sperm…” and Shen is the Child. It is vital that all three aspects be kept in harmony for the body to function wholly and fully. Depletion or loss of any one of The Three Treasures can bring about discomfort and problems for the body as a whole.

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